Tales From the Loop arrived on Amazon Prime this past weekend, bringing a truly breathtaking series to the small screen. Inspired by the art book and RPG from Simon Stalenhag, the quasi-anthology series takes place in Mercer, Ohio, a small Midwestern town which is stationed around the Mercer Center for Experimental Physics. The center has developed the nickname “The Loop” for the particle accelerator-like machine that sits inside of it, which promises to unlock new secrets about the universe — but ends up adding so much more unexplained phenomena into the lives of those in the town.
While every episode can arguably be consumed as its own self-contained tale, there are some recurring plot threads throughout the season, particularly with the Willard family. The family’s matriarch is Loretta Willard (Rebecca Hall), a gifted physicist who, motivated by a traumatic event from her youth, is obsessed with the work that she does at The Loop.
Hall is no stranger to emotional performances, whether it’s in genre-infused fare like Iron Man 3 and Professor Marsden and the Wonder Women, or poignant dramas like Christine and The Town. But in Tales From the Loop, Hall’s take on Loretta has a unique and ever-evolving relationship with the town – and the events of it – which makes the series incredibly compelling to watch.
In celebration of Tales From the Loop‘s debut, ComicBook.com got to chat with Hall about her role as Loretta, and about joining this one-of-a-kind series. In the process, she spoke about how she’s holding up in the current COVID-19 pandemic, the power of escapist television, and what it was like filming the upcoming Godzilla vs. Kong.
ComicBook.com: I guess my first question is how are you holding up at the moment? Because obviously, things are very surreal right now.
Rebecca Hall: Yeah, they are. I’m lucky. I mean, I’m at home and I have a garden and I’ve got a two-year-old who’s very distracting, and we’re all together. I’m able to keep working a little bit, because I’m editing right now, but it’s sort of a weird process, even without the editing.
I’d rather this were not happening, but I’m also quite grateful for the time to, I don’t know, check-in and remember being at home and doing a bit of painting and reading a book. It’s actually really fulfilling, and I don’t need to be constantly achieving much more than that.
Joining Tales From the Loop
I’ve seen a couple of episodes of Tales from the Loop, and you do such an amazing job in it. What drew you to this project? Because it feels like such a different kind of sci-fi show, especially with the source material.
I think, often, high-concept things tend to be driven by the concepts. You tune in to a high-concept science fiction show because the fantastical element is going to be the thing driving the narrative, and that’s going to be exciting. And that’s great, but I find that very compelling that it’s a bit of a ruse with this show. It’s using that to focus in on something quite small and human that is also existentially enormous.
I was also very struck by the fact that it’s inspired by art. I knew that was going to mean that it had a certain stylistic authorship to it, and I’m interested in being in projects that have that sense of voice. And I found the words seemed to be so restrained, and the characters to be so intriguing, and that’s also very compelling for me as an actor. Especially when Loretta. You don’t actually have to work very hard to make Loretta in any way relatable, because after you’ve watched episode one, you just get her. You understand where she’s coming from. So it gave me an enormous amount of freedom as an actor to just play her in all of her weird, emotionally repressed, obsessive glory.
You mentioned the reveal in Episode 1 [that Loretta’s childhood has direct ties to The Loop]. What was it like to play that and how does it kind of ripple out to the rest of the season?
It sort of explains her character. I think often, we play people who are, as other people like to call it, quote-unquote “unlikable characters”. And you do a lot of work trying to understand why and communicate that to an audience so that they feel — not empathy necessarily, but sympathy I suppose — towards that person. But in this instance, all of that work was done for me narratively, so I didn’t have to worry about it. And I think that does inform the whole show. I didn’t worry about softening the edges with her. And I found it to be such a sort of comprehensive character on the page.
Is there an episode or sequence in Season 1 that is your favorite?
Well, I like a lot of them. They’re all quite intriguing, because they all stand on their own. And there’s a lot that I’m not in, so I get to enjoy it without any of my actor neuroses coming out.
But, I don’t know, [I like] a lot of it. A lot of it. It’s a bit interesting because, in a way, you could watch it all out of context. I think it’s probably better to watch it from beginning to end, in the right order, and sort of piece together the puzzle. But things do stand on their own, and each one is essentially a different story that has a sort of piece of connective tissue.
What do you hope viewers take away from Season 1?
I hope that they feel transported, a little bit, into this realm of something fantastical, but they’re also allowed to tap into something much more simple and basic about people. I think the whole show is about time, honestly, even though it deals with it in this huge, metaphorical way. It’s about this town that’s literally on top of an enormous particle collider that is basically sort of throwing out everything that is mysterious and profound about being human into all these people’s everyday lives. But it is about being a person. So I think it’s incredibly emotional without being sentimental, but it’s truly an emotional piece. I think you will be moved by it, and also transported and also a bit… I don’t know. It gives you a lot to think about at the same time.
All of that, and it’s incredibly cinematic. It has the potential to do the thing that happens to you when you watch really good cinema, and really make you look at the world a little differently.
What can you tease, particularly with Loretta, for the rest of the season and then potentially beyond that, if there’s a second season?
I don’t know about [a second season]. Your guess is as good as mine, honestly. I mean, this show could go absolutely anywhere, any time or place. If there is another season, it could be an entirely different set of people, so I’ve got no idea.
I suppose what’s interesting about this season is that, whilst there are lots of characters that get a story, I suppose Loretta is a bit unique in that by the end of the season, you’ve sort have seen — with some gaps, you’ve seen an entirety of her life, from that childhood to adulthood. You’ve seen a big chunk of her life. And I think that that’s interesting in itself. It doesn’t always happen in the season of television that you have a comprehensive picture of a person from childhood to older age, actually.
Godzilla vs. Kong
Myself and my readers are very excited for Godzilla vs. Kong. I know you can’t give away too much, but what was the experiencing of filming that project?
It was really fun. It was a funny gig for me. I have very specific memories of it, because it was the first job I took after having my daughter, and she was six months old when we started the process. And we went to Hawaii and Australia, and she got to spend all of this time on a beach thinking that this was how the world works. And then I took her to Winnipeg to shoot Tales from the Loop, and she was suddenly very cold. But we all had a really great time, it was really fun.